Monday, May 30, 2011
Unbeknownst to me, I must have been one of the chosen ones. I didn't discover it until the Memorial Day picnic when a friend pointed it out to me. I have the mark of the cross on me. I can't believe it! I never get picked for anything! Eloise gets the big prize. I'll put in a good word for all of you.
Posted by eloise hawking at 10:55 PM
Friday, May 27, 2011
Heinz 57 has an advertising slogan that goes "Heinz 57--Variety is the spice of life." For blog post number 57 I give to you the spice in my life, my children. The above post is a collection of my favorite head shots (since my digital camera). I don't need many words for this post. The lyrics to the Dixie Chicks song Lullabye are perfect and the images set to the beautiful rhythms of Natalie Maines's voice will move you. My children aren't just the spice of my life; they are my life.
How long do you want to be loved?
Posted by eloise hawking at 8:20 PM
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Eloise loves to summarize things. I sure do like a good summary. I know, I'm a nerd. Most teachers are. Consider summarization though. It is an artfully honed skill to be able to condense a great big bite of life into a small digestible chunk. The video posted above gives you a nice taste of how I've spent some of my life since January; watching the show and melting my iTunes cards. The musical acts in the finale were superb. It was great to see my old favorite TLC again. Also, I didn't know Jack Black could sing that well. And if you know where Lady Gaga got her hat, let me know because I want one.
This year the variety of musical styles appealed to many. It even made my ten year old a rockin' hard Heavy Metal fan because of James Durbin. We now have Ozzy, AC/DC, and Metallica in the kitchen CD player. I guess we needed to mix it up at bit at our house. Never a dull moment when your four year old requests Crazy Train---as in Ozzy Osbourne, not Thomas the Tank Engine. My girls and I will look forward to following all of these finalists when they arrive in the Steel City on August 10th on their tour.
A big hug from Eloise to the top three---Scotty, Lauren, and Haley. Three teens who beat out all the rest of the competition to snag the top three spots. In the words of Casey Abrams, another contestant commenting on their youth, "they still have Similac on their breath." Impressive. All have the potential to be in the music business for awhile, and even if you didn't watch the show, my followers can at least claim you saw them at the start of their careers here on this blog.
I was touched by how graciously Scotty McCreery accepted the title. He kissed his competitor, and made his way down to individually hug each family member who was there to support him. When asked if he had any thoughts on the win, he immediately gave thanks to the Lord first. How admirable for a young man. It speaks volumes for him not as a singer, but as a person.
I love everything about the show, except the name of it. Americans should appreciate a good Cinderella story where common folk get a chance to make their dreams a reality. I know I love a good one since I've always wanted to be Cinderella. Idolize, though----I'm not so sure that is the best term. Admire maybe, or respect, and maybe even envy, but I don't care for the Idol part. I think I got a better name for the show. If I got to suggest a name for this contest, I would call it Noteworthy. Noteworthy--that is just what the contestants are---singers with a story behind them, who rise above the ranks. They are truly Noteworthy in all angles of the interpretation.
Scotty McCreery's new song that will be released as the winner of Idol 2011 is titled I Love You This Big. It is a great country tune sure to melt the hearts of fans all around the the world. Listen for it. I hope you can pick up a radio signal over there in Slovenia. You don't want to miss it. I am sure Scotty will be singing it to my daughters in August. I am sure his voice is powerful enough to reach our seats in the nosebleed section where we usually sit.
We Love You This Big, season 2011 contestants. You've brought music into our homes and into our hearts. You are truly Noteworthy. Here are a couple of future Noteworthy contestants practicing for their big breaks in 2017 and 2023. You have to be sixteen to try out for the show.
Posted by eloise hawking at 7:00 PM
Monday, May 23, 2011
Jack, as in Jack Shepard, the other man in my life. The doctor from the TV show LOST, played by actor Matthew Fox. There have been many a blog references to Jack through the inception of The Lamp Post, and there are bound to be more. Save your eye rolling for later, because this one is good.
The next day I took a personal day from work. I had planned that in advance knowing that I would most likely re watch the finale again into the wee hours of the night. Well, that and the fact of those tiny airliner sized bottles of alcohol--what is that rule about not mixing beverages? I guess Dharma beer and vodka don't work well together. I still went in to work the following Monday, well, sort of. It was the day we had decided to give our daughter Natalie a tour of the Junior High School and meet the students in her middle level autism class. I was a bit bleary eyed from too little sleep and too much alcohol. My eyes were puffy from crying watching my hero Jack die. Mr. Fritts, Natalie's teacher picked up on my subdued demeanor and said to me, "It's okay to be a little apprehensive. Lots of parents get that way at transition time. Don't worry, Natalie will be happy here." I snorted and laughed and said, "Oh, no. I haven't been crying over that. I trust you. I'm sad because my favorite show is over and my hero died." Sniffle, sniffle, sniff, sniff. That was me having another breakdown at the mere mention of it again. Great way to make a first impression. Everyone is forgivable in autism land though. They've seen it all.
So my show is LOST, both literally and figuratively. It is gone but not forgotten. Something else I'll never forget is how I met my husband. The short version is we met in North East where we both began our teaching careers. The long version is a bit different and far more entertaining. It is my most requested story to be told, so here's the blogified version:
I was in my senior year of college working my #$% off, finishing up my courses and working two waitressing jobs. I worked at Pizza Hut and Marketplace Grill. I was a far better pizza slinger than a Marketplace Grill server. Pizza joints are more my thing. It's really hard to mess up a pizza order. I'm not the fancy restaurant type. It was hard to work there because learning the menu alone was difficult. It was a great place to eat because you had so many options. Servers were tested not only on the menu items, but had to learn the ingredients and how the dishes were made, too. Plus, the customers at Marketplace were a bit more finicky. They never were satisfied with what was offered on the menu--they always had to order something a little special--like hold this or that---or please put my hollendaise sauce on the side. It was ANNOYING. I wanted to scream, "just pick off your own damn tomato!" but I refrained because the money was so good. I sucked it up.
On one insanely busy day in October 1992, due to a teacher convention at the Erie Civic Center, we were slammed at the restaurant. A flood of teachers rushed the door to grab a "quick bite to eat" on their lunch hour. Sorry, colleagues. No such thing when 70% of your work force happens to be salad eating women. The cold line chefs were slammed. Didn't Eloise happen to get a table full of teachers from North East, the exact school district I had been assigned to for the upcoming spring for student teaching. "Wow! How opportune!", I thought. "What a great way to make a first impression." I guess I thought wrong.
Posted by eloise hawking at 5:58 AM
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Mother Eloise had a bit of fun altering the above photo of my now-teenaged daughter. The chair on the cover is her birthday gift. Natalie is like her mommy in many respects. She resembles me the most out of my children and she LOVES to be outside. Swinging is one of her favorite pass times. We bought her this chair to hang on our deck so she can sit and swing all summer long. It has a little roof to shade her fair skin from the sun and cup holders on either arm rest to hold her nice cool drink.
We let the kids drink more pop than usual in the summertime and Natalie prefers Sprite. Natalie isn't known for being a detail freak, so she usually just grabs a shiny, green can out of the garage refrigerator after we affirm her "Pop is good, mom" statement/question. Once in awhile her inattention to detail stings her because she'll mistakenly grab one of MY shiny, green cans I keep in there on occasion--Rolling Rocks. We usually hear a guttural scream "IT'S ALL YUCKY!" and she comes running at us wiping her tongue. Guess the German genetics aren't coming into play yet. Maybe she'll like the vino like her Italian relatives someday.
Someday.....hmmmm.....what will that bring? I can't venture to guess and I am trying not to for fear of limiting her. In 13 years, Natalie has already far surpassed our expectations from when we received the Autism/Mental Retardation diagnosis at age 2. Years of therapy, the Barber National Institute, and many, many patient people have allowed Natalie to bloom and flourish. Today, Natalie enjoys people, is a cheerleader for the Harbor Creek Sparkles program, ice skates with the Gliding Stars, can read, and takes dance lessons at Keri's Dance Studio. This year her routine is to Love Shack. I loved how the cover shot of the Pier 1 catalog had a B-52ish girl on the front. Natalie's dance costume looks kind of like that. Now if she'll just let me do her hair in the bump-it, we'll be all set.
Natalie has taken to the liking of counting money lately, and on several occasions has cleaned out all of the wallets and piggy banks in our entire house, unbeknownst to us. Ellen opened one of their purses to find it stuffed with cash. She inquired as to where Natalie got all of the money. Upon a quick search we found the little thief cleaned us out. To our amazement she looked at us and said, "OOOHHHHH. Look at money. Go shopping." Natalie is really hard to be mad at.
The autism outlook at the turn of the millennium was grim. Kids were getting diagnosed every day, and the prognosis wasn't good. Even today's autism numbers are staggering, 1 out of every 99 and one in every 50 families. Wow. Programs to help these unique individuals were just getting up and running and there was not much long term data to draw from. I never believed that Natalie would be sitting in a corner rocking, banging her head and biting herself for long. No, way. No, how. Not if Mother Eloise had anything to do with it. I've been told I'm stubborn lately. In this instance, by bullheadedness was a good thing. I refused to give up.
There was a period of time when she quit looking at me. So I did what any good mother would do--I sat on top of her one day and put my forehead to hers and held it there until she looked into my eyes. I just heard her teacher, Mr. Fritts cringe when he read this and look up the number to Children's Services. He used to be her Behavior Specialist before he was her teacher. Although this is in line with behavior training drills, I doubt this is exactly what her had in mind when he trained me many years ago. When she would meet my gaze with her big, pools of blue, I would spin her around which she loved. I then would make her hold my gaze for three seconds, then five, then ten, and as long as she could without blinking before I reinforced her. As she grew, my back could no longer take the spinning, so we switched to bubbles. After the bubble build-up made my kitchen floor became treacherous, we didn't need reinforcements any longer. Just my attention was enough. Mission accomplished.
I mentioned in an earlier blog post that Natalie reminded me of a butterfly. She sang the song Butterfly Fly Away by Miley Cyrus for the beauty pageant Little Miss Lovely, she was in this past February. During her childhood, Natalie reminded me of that caterpillar--an awkward, twichy thing that ate all of the time (in Natalie's case, McDonald's french fries). It seems that she spun herself a little cocoon that she is now emerging from. She's hanging there (maybe in her swing chair) with wet wings, ready to spread them. She was born to fly and who am I to stop her?
The song posted below is from American Idol this season. It is from one of our early favorites who has rode the fame train all the way to the semi finals--Lauren Alaina. This spectacular Georgia sixteen year old did a great rendition of Sara Evans' song Born to Fly. I actually believe Lauren's version is better than the original. Take a listen and judge for yourselves. I have my idol ticket vouchers in my fireproof box already. Natalie will be going to see her in Pittsburgh on August 10th. When you get to this lyric, "I've been tellin' my dreams to a scarecrow, of the places that I want to see, I said "Friend do you think I'll ever get there?" and he just stands there smilin' back at me." Then check out the picture of Natalie and Erik at their ice show with those ridiculous straw hats on and it will make you laugh.
You can bet my little butterfly will have this song and many others loaded onto her brand new iPod touch she won at her Autism Talent show last week. Yep. Natalie won the grand prize! I can just see her now, sitting in her swing, listening to her favorite tunes, with an ice cold Rolling Rock in the cup holder. See, I told you she is just like her Momma.
The Lord works in mysterious ways. The impairment of a child is one of life's biggest disappointments, but in many regards it has brought us great joy. We celebrate our successes and don't sweat the small stuff. We don't set limits on ourselves or our children. We believe anything is possible through hard work and the blessings of our Good Lord.
So, in the questions sung by young Lauren Alaina,
But how do you wait for heaven?
And who has that much time?
And how do you keep your feet on the ground
When you know that you were born,
You were born to fly?
Here is your answer, Natalie: You have all the time in the world, my dear daughter, and one of the most patient mothers known to man. Take your sweet old time, sweet girl. Spread your wings when you are ready and don't let me hold you back. You don't have to keep your feet on the ground, because baby, you were born to fly.
Fly baby, fly,
Posted by eloise hawking at 5:37 AM
Friday, May 13, 2011
I'm stuck. I made a public promise. I vowed to stick with it to the end. For better or worse. No matter how long and hard the road, I was committed. In it to win it. Win the war that is. And boy, oh boy, has it been a battle. My marriage? Nope. War and Peace. My book.
Eloise finds herself smack dab in the middle of Russian history and Napoleonic Wars. Well...........not exactly smack dab in the MIDDLE of 1,386 pages. I've honestly admitted I am not good at math but decent enough to know that would bring me to about 693. I'm on page 40. It's been a slow go.
Given that I am such a whiz at math, I calculated that by reading at this rate since beginning the book on April 5, 2011, I will finish it on May 30th, 2015. Ellen will be finishing up her reign at the Junior High by then. Maybe it will be on the Harbor Creek High School summer reading list for entering 9th graders and I can help her out. Never hurts to be prepared.
I know I just picked up 30 Russian blog followers and certainly don't want to insult your boy Tolstoy, but this book just defies all rules of story writing. What happened to the rule about not muddling the plot with too many characters early on? Not to mention that every character needs a pronunciation guide to go along with it. Try picking your way through Katkov, Drubetsky, Pavlovna, and Bolkonsky at 11:00 at night. No need to count sheep at the Lamp Post anymore. What about the run-on sentence? I know it's a translated work and all, but come on, a 57 word sentence? I wonder what the scorers of the PSSA writing tests would say to this: Meanwhile all the younger generation, Boris, the officer, Anna Milhalovna's son; Nikolay, the student, the Count's elder son; Sonya, the Count's nieces; and little Petya, his younger son, had all placed themselves about the drawing room, and were obviously trying to restrain within the bounds of decorum the excitement and mirth which was brimming over their faces. Go ahead. Count 'em yourself. This covers the "too many character" thing, too.
That wasn't the sentence that got me off on the wrong foot though. It was one that he used in a conversation of two of the main characters. The young males were discussing marriage. Read this: But tie yourself up with a woman, and, like a chained convict, you lose all freedom. And all the hope and strength there is in you is only a drag on you, torturing you with regret.........No, don't marry my dear fellow, don't marry! Ladies, I smell a bit of a chauvinist. Do you?
Our brains activate when we read and we conjure up images of the words on the pages. Little movies go on in our heads when we read and the pictures are drawn from people we know and our own past experiences. Oddly enough, one of the characters in the beginning is Princess Ellen. I told my daughter this, and she was very pleased. I don't know what kind of character Tolstoy's Ellen will turn out to be, but thus far she "has a lovely head sitting upon statuesque shoulders." Not quite the wording I'd use for my own little princess, but she's lovely just the same. The Count Somethingorotheretsky keeps appearing and all I can picture is the one from Sesame Street. I've had 13 years straight of Sesame Street, so forgive me. After that I don't have much Russian history to draw from. Well, except for Rocky IV, that is.
I have a penchant for boxing for some reason. I guess I like a good fight. The Rocky movies are some of my all time favorites. The misplaced flower child has an inner feisty that I can't fight at times, pun fully intended. So here is a clip of the final fight between Rocky and Drago. I hate to blow the ending, but Russians, this was probably censored in your country, so here's a hint: the end doesn't work out so well for you all.
So, inspired by my hero, Rocky Balboa, I too shall fight my Russian beast. His name isn't Drago; it's Tolstoy. I'm stuck because I gave my word, and I'm not a girl who goes back on it no matter how much it sucks. Is 40 too soon to make that decision to continue to fight or to call it a day? I'll read a little more and see how it goes. Watch for an update. Summer's coming--lots of late nights reading out on my porch swing. Drive by some evening local followers, and you'll see my light--my book light, that is.
Posted by eloise hawking at 9:50 PM
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Josie is not laying at my feet, snoozing to the clicking of the keyboard as she usually does when I write. She's in the Animal Hospital with an acute case of doggie pancreatitis. Our van turned into a makeshift ambulance this morning when my husband made a quick trip through the city to get her there. Josie began vomiting Thursday and worsened as the week went on. By last night she was unable to hold down even a few laps of water for more than 30 seconds. She could no longer stand on her legs by morning. Josie was truly, "sick as a dog."
That got Eloise a-thinkin' about the origin of that saying, "sick as a dog." In a quick internet search, and I mean quick because I was busy asking Mr. Google about "pancreatitis in dogs", some claim to have traced the term back to 17th century England. Apparently when the Brits are under the weather with just a little malady like the sniffles, they are "ill." The term "sick" is used when vomiting is involved. I don't know if that is still the case or not, but it makes sense. Eloise just may shoot a quick e-mail off to Willie and Cate and see if that is true. The prince and princess are making themselves a bit more accessible to the public than their predecessors, so maybe one of them will answer me. Cate was spotted grocery shopping the other day, you know.
If you are a dog lover such as myself, you know the pain of watching a furry friend suffer. Although our canine companions cannot speak our language, they speak to you with their eyes, and I could see her pain and distress in Josie's. There was nothing more to do at 4:00 am besides lay with her and wait until morning. I drug my sleeping bag out to the kitchen floor and spooned her, my arm draped over her swollen side. Her whimpers ceased and her breathing slowed a bit. We were both able to sleep for at least a little while.
Crazy you say? Obviously pets aren't viewed the same way in Slovenia. Americans reading this blog get me. My pet has become part of my family and yes, I do feel like her mother. She was the easiest birth I ever had.
So my original blog idea flew right out the window with all of my Mother's Day plans. I was too (sad, worried, depressed, guilt ridden--you choose the verb because any apply) to head out for our planned family bike ride this morning or brave the Peach Street traffic for a mall invasion with the girls. Writing about your worries is a form of "venting", so I am beginning to feel better already and recognizing that Josie is in good hands--so maybe this afternoon you'll catch us pedaling around.
But for the most part, it has been a lazy day for me, not as productive or "happy memory making" as I had hoped. But a lazy day every once in awhile is OK, I've recently learned. Not every single second needs to be filled with doing something. There is a nice sunny spot on my couch right now as the May sunshine streams through the window here at the Lamp Post. Maybe I'll just couch it with the kids for a bit. A lazy song posted above for a lazy Mother's Day afternoon for me.
Ladies, you can tell that it is obvious this song is sung by a man (Bruno Mars), as well as written by one. It seems the song writer has had many days such as the one being sung about. One writes best through personal experience, right? Sounds like this guy had lots of practice couching it and doing nothing. For the moms out there, you know those days are few and far between. A mother's job never ends. Even if it means cleaning up hula-hoop size piles of dog vomit all weekend long.
Praise to all you mother's out there as well as to all of you dog lovers. Owning a pet is like being a parent. When you bring home that little Fido or Rex, you are invested, not only in cash but in love. I am not one to offer any sort of financial advice, but I do know if you do invest in a dog, they pay off is there for you.
Ruff, Woof, Bow Wow, and Yap (for the chihuahua lovers),
Posted by eloise hawking at 4:27 PM